The Utah Jazz felt that Australian guard Dante Exum was the third best player on their draft board on Thursday, June 26--so Jazz brass took him with the No. 5 pick at the 2014 NBA Draft after their other targets, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, were gone.
But Exum brings things other than basketball to the table that might interest you, things that would probably fit better in Los Angeles or Boston--or even on New York’s Madison Avenue--than in little Salt Lake City.
That Exum seemed less than thrilled to play in Utah didn’t sit well with fans before the draft got underway. But, after the Aussie was chosen by the Jazz and happened to meet Trey Burke at the home of the draft, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn--and fielded a call from new Jazz head coach Quin Snyder--and took a few snapshots with Burke as well at the draft, Exum seemed to relax a bit and his demeanor changed.
And now Exum is going to be a member of the Utah Jazz. Paired with the point guard Burke, the 6-foot-6-inch, 196 pound native of Melbourne, Australia will remind people of few they’ve seen on a basketball court. Exum is lightning quick with a devastating first step, a 6-9 wingspan and the ability to play either point guard or shooting guard.
Melbourne--a city whose population is 4.3 million--is much larger than Salt Lake City and the 1.1 million people in its metropolitan area. Yet the NBA and technology in general are now global--meaning that you could be playing in Salt Lake City but that the reach of a TV commercial, for example, would have the same impact if you were in Los Angeles. Besides, the glitz and glamour of L.A. is just a short plane ride away.
There is little question that Exum’s series of adidas commercials for Foot Locker, entitled “Life Changes After the Draft,” have been a hit. Aired during ESPN’s 2014 NBA Draft, the 16-second spots featuring Exum reached millions around the world on television and on the Internet. Each has generated hundreds of thousands of views on Foot Locker’s YouTube channel--not to mention the impressions on TV.
So for a Jazz team starving for a face upon which it can brand its product and market globally, Exum appears to be a good candidate. Not since Karl Malone has there been an opportunity for a more visible public face for the Jazz--even if Exum only 19 years old and has only played 23 games of organized basketball.